Social Theory, In and Out of Africa




Social Theory, In and Out of Africa examines some of the major con­cep­tual and methodological approaches that have shaped the history of social thought in, from, and about Africa. In so doing, it will address the historical roots, political invest­ments, and philosophical foundations of theory-making as they have taken shape in the crucible of empire, with Africa serving largely as the object of hegemonic Eurocentric knowledge-production. The readings will explore the interplay of scholarly practice and political historical struggle in the unfolding of social theory from colonial to postcolonial times. While “Africa” has long served as foil to European constructions of history, civilization, culture, and society, scholars on the continent have always disrupted these schemes, refuting and rewriting them in globally consequential ways. The course strives to open up a critical, open-ended discussion about the genealogy of disciplinary knowledge in the social sciences, especially as revealed by arguments emerging from the vexed place of Africa, in theory and in practice. Readings cover classic Africanist texts but focus mainly on scholarship emerging from the continent itself, examining a range of key issues – from Marxist and liberationist thought to questions of political economy, colonialism, development, gender, generation, and future-making.
Additional Information:
Faculty: Jean Comaroff
Semester: Full Fall Term
Time: Tuesday, 12:45 - 2:45 pm